GIN SPICES AND BOTANICALS LIST
TRADITIONAL BOTANICALS AND SPICES IN GIN DISTILLING
Among the diversity of the range of spirits, gin is a chapter in itself, as it stands out with its herbal value and wide applicability when used in mixed drinks. It is known as a traditional spirit based on pure grain alcohol. Gin is given its typical taste by juniper berries, in addition to other flavors used by the manufacturer.
In our Karakter Distillery, in addition to traditional herbs (juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root...), we use a range of unique floral botanicals and spices for gin, such as mountain pine, thyme, wild cherry and others.
This allows us to capture in our gin the uniqueness of Bohinj valley's flora, which results from the everchanging regional microclimate. Additionally, we like to honour the traditional local handpicking techniques, and thus bring closer the past and the present, by creating an unique combination of flavours and aromas found in our gins.
Around the world, hundreds of herbs, spices, flowers and other unique botanicals are used in the process of creating the gin's aroma.
Among these, the following are the most commonly used:
They are the main ingredient in all gins and belong to the cypress family. Most of the world's producers use junipers from Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Italy and India. Juniper berries are harvested mostly by hand from October to February. The main essential oils are hidden in three seeds inside the strawberry. Juniper berries are aromatic and spicy with a bitter-sweet taste and notes of pine, lavender, overripe banana and pepper.
Are the second most common and second most important ingredient in gin. Most come from Morocco, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria and Russia. They vary greatly according to geographical origin, for example Bulgarian seeds are much stronger than those from Morocco. Coriander seeds have an aromatic, strong and spicy taste, reminiscent of candied ginger, lemon and sage. In gin, it is perceived as a taste of citrus peel.
Angelica root is a key ingredient in gin, as it combines the aromas and flavors of other spices and herbs and prolongs their strength and intensity. Angelica root has a nutty, rooty and woody taste, with a dry resinous finish, often compared in taste and aroma to mushrooms.
Lemon peel is used instead of lemon flesh because it contains most of the essential oils. Most producers use lemons from Andalusia or Sicily. Lemon peel adds a fresh, citrusy, juicy, lemon flavor and aroma to the gin.
Most producers use oranges that come from Seville, where they are harvested in March. Also with oranges distillers use the peel rather than the whole fruit, as it contains most of the essential oils. Different types of oranges are used, red, sweet and bitter oranges, depending on the personal preference of each producer. Orange gives freshness and juicy orange aromas and taste.
Like angelica root, Iris root has the characteristic of binding and combining the flavors and aromas of other spices and herbs used. Three to four-year-old roots are harvested, which are then dried and stored for two to three years to develop their characteristic aroma. Dried roots are very hard, and are ground to a powder before use. Most of the Iris root comes from Florence, Italy. It has a very bitter taste and an aroma and taste of violets, earth and brewed tea. Sometimes the aroma is also described as a fresh barn.
It belongs to the cinnamon family. The bark of the tree, which grows mainly in Vietnam, China and Madagascar, is used. In gin, it can be perceived as a slight aroma and taste of cinnamon, and some describe it as a taste of chewing gum.
Cardamom grains come mostly from the Malabar region of southwestern India and contain many small black seeds. Of the two better known species, black and green cardamom, green is the most commonly used in the production of gin, as it is considered to be milder and more pleasant. Cardamom gives gin a spicy, citrusy taste and aroma, sometimes it can also be perceived as eucalyptus.
We place it in the pepper family. Berries, which are reddish brown in color, are used and come mostly from Java in Indonesia. In gin, it is perceived as a spicy, peppery, lemon, resinous or eucalyptus flavor and aroma. Sometimes we perceive it as peppermint.
Grains of paradise
Just like cubeb pepper, it belongs to the pepper family. In gin, it is perceived as hot, spicy, peppery, and also gives the aroma of lavender, elderflower and menthol.
Liquorice comes from Indochina, dried and crushed root is used. In gin, it is perceived as a characteristic taste of liquorice, but it also gives freshness, lightness, bitter-sweet taste and earthy and woody notes. It also gives gin sweetness, roundness and softness. Liquorice is also unusual in that the taste and aroma in it are not expressed with essential oils but with glyceric acid.
Sage has been present in folk medicine for centuries, the Romans considered it a sacred plant and it was present in many rituals, and the Greeks used it to treat snake bites. It gives gin a slightly medicinal taste, it is also perceived as resinous, it gives an aroma of lavender, conifers, eucalyptus and citrus.
KARAKTER GIN'S SPECIAL BOTANICALS AND SPICES
Mountain pine (Ruševje)
Ruševje comes from a family of conifers, and we also call it mountain pine. It is a fairly widespread species in our country, and covers large areas in the Julian Alps. Needles and stems of shrubs are used. It adds a fresh, resinous taste and aroma to gin, which can sometimes be perceived as a taste of spruce tops and citrus.
Wild cherry (Divja češnja)
It is found all over Europe, but in Slovenia it grows mainly in the Goriška brda, Istria and Brkini. It is the forerunner of today's cultivated cherry, which was domesticated by our ancestors. Thus it soon became the subject of trade. The fruits ripen in June and July, and have a characteristic dark red, almost black brava. The fruits are smaller than the fruits of cultivated cherries, but are therefore much more aromatic. It gives a pleasant aroma, freshness and light, soft and gentle notes to the gin.
Garden thyme (Materina dušica)
Materina dušica roughly translates into "Mother's soul". It is a very widespread species, we find it in almost every garden and meadow. It is harvested from June to September and is used in folk medicine for its many beneficial effects. To gin it gives a pleasant citrus and herbal aroma.
LEARN MORE ABOUT
ABOUT KARAKTER DISTILLERY
Karakter distillery, the only "official" distillery in Bohinj,
was founded in 2016 by three indigenous people from Bohinj,
friends since childhood.
Today, in addition to the distillation of gin and other craft spirits,
we organize live music events at our bar next to Lake Bohinj
and help develop the culinary scene in Slovenia.